RAIN - RAIN GO AWAY, AND RETURN ON SOME WINTER WEDNESDAY.
MOTHER NATURE MAKES RACERS AND FANS FIND OTHER THINGS TO DO.
Mother Natures calling is the boss….. When Mother Nature appears, find something else to do. When Mother Nature speaks, find something else to do. When So Cal becomes the news highlight of America, find something else to do. I guess you can imagine how I feel when the latest USAC/CRA race was cancelled well over 24 hours prior to the event, and four days later, it hasn’t stopped raining. We need a boat.
Here are a few pics of our trip north. Click here
I have seen the big rain drops of Indiana, where a rainout one time came so quick, the crowd was soaked before it could get back to their cars. I have been in the Knoxville grandstands during a Nationals event many years ago when it came so sudden, you couldn’t get out of the stands due to the large crowd trying to do the same thing, escape to under the grandstands. I have seen rain turn to sleet and even snow at Bakersfield during a particular outlaw show. I have seen rain delays over the years that sometimes completed and sometimes sent us all home disappointed. This rain in sunny Southern California is unprecedented and it’s lucky the next USC/CRA race isn’t until a week from this coming Saturday, on March 5th, because it will take some time to get the lake moved back up past the dam at Perris and the ocean out of Ventura Raceway's little bowl.
The season has started and some interesting things have happened already. First over 60 different cars have run the first two USAC/CRA races for a great show of cars. Dave Darland played his cards right on a night when there was no qualifying, and won the opener at Manzanita with a strong drive in Dwight Cheney’s # 42 car. Dwight has been fielding his car for several travelers since his semi-retirement and Darland gave him a great win. I have said many times before, I think it is double hard for a visiting driver to be able to come to town, jump in a strange car, get in tune to the different chassis set-up and be able to do well, let alone win. Dave is still one of the best and his efforts in the Alex Pruitt second car at the Oval Nationals was evidence of his outstanding ability.
Damion Gardner started out the year on a road trip to Tucson, Arizona to run a New Years day 360 race down there. With all the new track opening pains that day, he still ran second to Josh Pelkey under lights that weren’t ready and then had a tough trip to Phoenix, so was very focused when the Perris opener arrived. The Demon lit up the track in qualifying, laying down a low 16 second time, near the track record. Then, in the first of many Perris Snap-on Tool trophy dashes scheduled for the year, he came from the back of the four car, three lap event, and won, while rubbing a little paint with Danny Sheridan in the process. In the feature he looked like DR Jeckle and Mr Hyde at times as he came from the fourth row to roar into the lead. He had a few touchy moments after gaining the lead when Rip Williams, looking for win number 100, pulled up behind him looking for the pass. Damion got so sideways on one trip out of the fourth turn, he almost touched the inside and outside walls on the front stretch, looking to all the world as very out of control. Not at all, he was just having fun? He then stepped on it and pulled away for his ninth CRA win and 22nd 410 win against the best of the So Cal based club racers in his four years down south.
I am going to give you a little info about different drivers in my weekly column’s this year I get their profiles updated. This week I have one done, and it was Danny “Showtime” Sheridan. Danny was born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Santa Maria. He graduated from St Joseph’s High School in Santa Maria and immediately went to the Fire academy with the hopes to be a fireman. The schooling didn’t help him get a job because there just was no openings. So, he went to work for the So Cal Gas Company for a while. He learned to operate heavy equipment and started spending his work hours moving dirt around.
Showtime’s racing career started in Mini-stocks at age 16. When he arrived for his first race, his car had the number 12 on it, but there was already a car with that number. He modified the 2 to make an 8 and that is his favorite number, one he will run this year in the Kittle Motorsports car he drives. Danny is single and just 30 years old and has a younger sister named Kelly and a dog named Roxy. His all time single highlight in racing was a night at Santa Maria when he took his 360 car to a second place finish beating J J Yeley among others to the flag. He won 10 of 15 Bandit races last season and lists winning the Bandit Championship and IMCA sprint championship, both as a rookie, among his major accomplishments. Winning the 2002 Wagsdash is also a favorite thing in his racing history.
Danny gets a lot of help from Rickie Gaunt about racing and has great respect for several drivers, including Mike Kirby, Richard Griffin and Rip Williams. He works for Boeing in the logistics department and is involved in planning and procurement for the missile program. He says his dad is his best friend and they do everything together and is the main reason for his success. His favorite track is Santa Maria with Ventura a close second. He loves Mexican food and gets involved with a lot of charity causes. He wants to win some races this year in a 410 and is very happy to get the ride in the Kittle # 18 car. Look for some victories this year as this young man can drive.
Two passings last week are notable. Dan Frank was a friend and long time sprint car fan who helped many racers over the years. He was from the Sacramento area and had moved to Tulare recently. He got involved at Thunberbowl Speedway in Tulare to help bring fans in, he loved that track so much. He traveled to see the non-wing races for many years and was known to many other fans and racers as well. He leaves a lot of friends and family who know he was too young to gowhen he passed away last weekend from an apparent heart attack. Gene Cowherd is known most recently for owning the red # 48 car that Tony Jones drove to the Oval Nationals win several years ago. Gene owned cars for a number of years and retired from racing several years ago. He also passed last week and will be missed by family and friends.
Note two adds to the 2005 CRA schedule. March 18th is the first day of the Sokola Classic at Manzanita and was a TBA. On October 8th, a visit to the new Tucson track is in order. Mark your calendars.
Until March 5th , we wait for racing to resume. See you there as I will be watching the High School playoffs until then. If my any of my favorite teams make it to the finals, yes, it’s that race date, I will miss them again this year.
CRA points after two races: 1. Mike Kirby - 109, 2. Charles Davis, Jr. - 109. 3. Rip Williams - 94. 4. Cory Kruseman 93, 5. Seth Wilson 83, 6. Rick Williams 82, 7. Mike Spencer 80, 8. Damion Gardner 73, 9. Rick Ziehl 64, 10. Jimmy Crawford 60, 11. Cary Faas 53, 12. Rickie Gaunt 52, 13. Steve Ostling 47, 14.R.J. Johnson 40, 15. J.Hicks 38, 16. Tony Jones 37, Alan Ballard 37, 18.Chuck Buckman 35, 19. Darren Hagen 31, 20. Troy Rutherford 29, Randy Waitman 29.